About Memory loss
Everyone can be forgetful, struggle to put a name to a face or remember where the car is parked. Mild changes in memory naturally occur due to age.
However, there are some changes that are not minor and are not an ordinary part of aging. There are a number of possible reasons for changes in memory and there may be a straightforward explanation for what you are experiencing.
Possible reasons for forgetfulness and confusion include:
- Anxiety and stress, particularly following a bereavement
- An infection such as a chest or bladder infection
- Thyroid disorders
- Vitamin deficiency
- Side effects of some medications
- Long term overuse of alcohol
- Conditions such as mild cognitive impairment or a stroke
- Dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease.
Some people may feel frightened or embarrassed but talking to your doctor could make all the difference. There are a number of possible reasons for changes to memory.
You should visit your doctor if you are experiencing changes to your memory, mood or ability to manage everyday life and especially if you:
- Feel your memory has changed significantly or rapidly
- Forget the names of friends or everyday objects regularly
- Find it hard to follow conversations or television programmes
- Notice that you regularly repeat yourself or lose your train of thought when speaking
- Find managing money or everyday tasks increasingly difficult
- Find it hard to remember things you have seen, read or heard
- Feel anxious, angry or frustrated by the changes you are experiencing
Tips when Visiting the Doctor
Before you visit your doctor, make a note of the changes you have noticed. Perhaps keep a diary to help you collect examples of things that are causing you to worry, when they happen and how often they are happening. This will help you to talk to your doctor about your concerns.
You may find it helpful to talk to a trusted loved one before your visit. You could ask them if they have noticed any changes and this may help you to prepare for the visit. You could also ask this person to come with you to your doctor. Having someone with you can support you and also help to keep a note of what the doctor advises the next steps should be.
If you would like to talk to someone about your concerns and about visiting the doctor, call the Alzheimer National Helpline.
Take the next Step
There are a number of possible reasons for changes in memory. Finding out what is happening is a positive step.
Getting an early diagnosis mean you can:
- Access appropriate treatments, services and supports
- Plan your legal and financial affairs
- Make decisions about your future
Helping your memory
There are many ways to help yourself if you are having difficulty with your memory. Different things will help different people. Some examples are listed here, choose the ones that suit you.
- Establish routines and daily habits so you have a structure to your day which will help you to remember what to do.
- Take your time, and try to do one thing at a time.
- Try to keep items like your keys, wallet, glasses and diary in the same place every day which is easy to see.
- Keep important phone numbers and a notepad and pen by the phone so they are easy to hand.
- Arrange with your bank to pay regular bills by direct debit or standing order so they are paid automatically.
- If you are taking medication, ask your pharmacist about pill boxes to help you keep track or log onto www.dontforget.ie .
- Put important legal and financial paperwork in a safe place and tell some-one you trust where. Consider if you need to speak to your solicitor to put your affairs in order.